Coronavirus: Should children, babies wear masks to protect against COVID-19?

Coronavirus: Should children, babies wear masks to protect against COVID-19?
FILE PHOTO: In this Monday, Feb. 17, 2020 photo, the handmade cotton masks are made by volunteers. Should children wear masks to protect against spreading coronavirus? The CDC says it depends on their ages. (Kin Cheung/AP)

With the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now advising people to wear face masks while in public, many parents may be wondering if children should also be wearing masks during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The answer is yes, in most cases, but age will play a factor.

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The CDC said that children age 2 and older should wear a cloth mask when in public to help slow the spread of the coronavirus, the “Today” show reported.

“Kids are much more likely to be asymptotic carriers or presymptomatic carriers, so ... we do a lot of good when we say, 'Hey, in addition to washing your hands, and please stop licking things, we’d also like you to wear a mask,” Dr. Deborah Gilboa told “Today.”

The best thing to do, some doctors say, is to have the kids wear them at home to get used to them. Have them practice not touching their face while in a safe environment, Dr. Katherine Wiliamson, told Huffington Post. Parents also need to watch their children during practice time and help them break bad habits.

But one group should not wear masks -- children under the age of 2.

The CDC says a face-covering could be a suffocation hazard for toddlers and infants.

Babies should not have a mask over their face because their airways are small, so breathing through them may be difficult, Huff Post reported.

Most babies and toddlers will also not willingly wear them or won’t keep their hands from their faces.

“We know that there is a group of kids who are not going to keep their masks on --- and that’s anyone under the age of 2,” Dr. Brianna Enriquez told Huff Post.